The Drama of Dad’s Wheels

My father’s car has been sitting, mostly, for two months. I’ve driven it a few times. It isn’t needed by anyone. My mother is legally blind, so she has never driven. So it should go. Simple enough; we sell the car.

It’s a 2007 Saturn that my parents bought a few years ago. They traded in the little pickup truck that my father loved, because it wasn’t very practical for two older people, and it was horrible in icy or snowy conditions. This all seems very sensible.

However, they took a loan. And now the loan still must be paid on this car that no one needs and no one drives. And whatever my mom can get for the car if it’s less than what she owes, she still has to pay the difference. So, my mom might have to pay to get rid of this stupid car. This stupid car that seems like it was a better idea, but is somehow the worst idea.

And isn’t this just what it’s really all about. A hundred and one little things, little decisions that were made, little things that have to be dealt with, and everyone more complicated than it ought to be. Gotta sell the car that the bank has the title on, so we have to find a buyer and then arrange to meet at the bank, so they can actually give the money to the bank, and pay the difference so that we can stop making payments, and then we can also stop paying the insurance. And since my mom isn’t the greatest at the internet, I am the one who has been posting ads, trying to find a buyer, answering questions, and trying to set up appointments, all from California, for a car that’s in Washington.

We tried to start all of this before Dad passed, but then we couldn’t because my father’s name was on the title along with Mom’s. That’s when I learned about a power of attorney. (More on that later.)

Every step of the way, through all this, so many speed bumps and roadblocks, and so many lessons I’ve learned. It’s maddening.

So, can I interest you in a 2007 Saturn Ion with 106,000 miles on it?

Endings

My life is a shitshow, so what better time to restart this habit.

My father had a stroke at the beginning of February.  About a month ago he passed away. And because life knows how to pile it on, in that time my relationship of the last almost three years fell apart, so I’m single again.

Backing up, for a second, because this wasn’t supposed to be that year. I just started a new job in January, two weeks before my dad’s stroke.  Two endings and a beginning.

The other day, someone asked me if I’d gone back to work yet. And I was flabbergasted. Whose life did this person think I was living? That is not how it works in my reality. I haven’t taken a single day off since my father passed. In all the time since the stroke, I’ve only taken two days, the week it first happened. It never occurred to me to not go to work. I have to work. Is this a thing that people do? Just stop everything when someone dies? I get the requisite bereavement leave my company offers in this case, five days. I am saving those to help my mom move out of her house later this month, because that’s our reality. While my father was alive, they had a decent income, but they were paycheck-to-paycheck like most of America. They didn’t have any savings. Just steady pension and retirement checks. And the second that he passed, most of the income went with him. My mom is boned, and there isn’t any time for either of us to fall apart.

It sounds luxurious, to be honest. So decadent, to stop working because my father died. To fall apart for even a moment feels like something reserved for the upper-crust of socioeconomic strata. How elegant. Does the fainting couch come standard with that plan? And the on-call doctor with a bottle of valium.

So I power through, like I’ve always done. I go to work. I’ve flown back and forth to my mom’s house every two to three weeks, slowly slipping into debt that hopefully, someday I can get out from under. And if I’m honest, I’ve drunk more than is probably necessary. I haven’t even remotely begun to grieve. First things first, and someone has to keep it together.

I hope I keep writing. I have a lot of material right now, honestly. This I have to say about how hard it is to find out information about services and housing available to an elderly, low-income parent. That there should be a number like 1-800-MYPARENTSAREOLD. There’s all the lessons my parents have taught me of the “what not to do” variety. About the importance of a durable power of attorney, and the fact that you’re never too young to make sure you have one for your parents.  About wills, lawyers, real estate, estate liquidators, medicaid, medicare, hospice, and the VA. Maybe I’ll write about some of that, or maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll write about being single again, suddenly, and what it’s like to be a single woman in her 40s in the age of Tinder, or maybe I’ll go nowhere near that crap. Hopefully I’ll find whatever humor there may be in this situation.

I’ve been through so much. I’ll get through this. Want to come along for the ride?

I Don’t Want To Go To Bed

You know all those times that I’ve logged on and written a blog in the middle of the night because I couldn’t get to sleep? All the posts that were like, “I tried to go to sleep, but I was thinking all this stuff, so I decided to get up and write on my blog about the stuff I couldn’t stop thinking?” This isn’t one of those posts. I’m not suffering from insomnia. I just don’t wanna go to bed, even though I’m pretty tired.

Why? Well, to put it simply, I’m afraid of the quiet. I’m tired of all the thoughts that have been keeping me up this week, and I think they’re in my bed waiting for me again tonight. I don’t want to think about all the ways that nothing is what I would like it to be right now. I don’t want to think about all the things I should have said and done in the past, but didn’t or couldn’t. I don’t want to think about my very uncertain future. I don’t want to think about the people I miss. I don’t want to replay yesterday and tomorrow on permanent repeat. And somehow I’ve convinced myself that scrolling through Facebook one more time, refreshing my email again, and watching another video on YouTube is the answer. And the later it gets, the more I dread laying down.  Continue reading “I Don’t Want To Go To Bed”

An Open Letter to the Guy Not Looking for a Relationship

Dear Guy Not Looking for a Relationship,

It seems that, for whatever reason, you and I keep finding one another; it’s happened at least 4 times in the last year. I am beginning to think that I have somehow stumbled on a secret pheromone that only you can smell, or something. Perhaps it’s that I’ve been single for so, so long. Despite what you may think, though, I am not desperate. It’d be nice if it was someone else’s turn to take out the trash every once in awhile, but fortunately I’m in a financial position that I can pay a housecleaner, and she does it once every other week.

Regardless of how you keep landing on my doorstep, I think that you need to know something. Though I’m not desperate, I am also not not looking for a relationship. If that double negative has confused you, allow me to clarify, I’m not the one for you. I don’t want to continuously reside in the somewhere in-between, kinda, sorta, halfway, partly girlfriend space. It’s not particularly fun for me. Which doesn’t mean that I will expect you to make a commitment to me right off the bat, but if you know at the beginning that you’re not down, well then I offer the following suggestions to avoid any awkward situations.   Continue reading “An Open Letter to the Guy Not Looking for a Relationship”

It’s 5 o’clock in the morning.

I have actually been doing much better with sleep lately.  It makes it even more frustrating when it’s not working out.   But the worst is when it’s working exactly right, I am sleeping deeply–dead to the world–and then I hear something that wakes me suddenly from that deep sleep.

I don’t know what it really was.  It got filtered into the dream I was having, and it sounded like someone was banging on my door.  But there’s no one at the door.  I don’t know if it came from the hallway or outside.  It doesn’t really matter.  What matters that it startled me, and now I’m too alert to get back to sleep easily.

At least I have the cat.  Mr. Darcy is doing what he usually does when I’m startled and up in the middle of the night, which is standing watch.  He lays on the end of the bed or on the couch next to me, very alert, looking out.  I call this pose ‘gargoyle-cat.’  Normally he’d be meowing up a storm to get me to pet him or pick him up, but now he’s just laying there, keeping an eye on things for me.  He’s almost as good as a dog.  It is comforting.

I’m not going to lie.  I mostly wrote this post to see if I could get it out of my system.  I don’t really have much to say at this hour.  So I’m going to try to go back to bed now.   Fingers crossed.

Babies

What is it about holding a baby that makes you feel better when you’re coping with a loss?  Maybe it’s a circle of life type of thing.  Every person lost is someone’s loved one, and every baby born is someone’s little squish monster, love, cuddle bunny.

Ebb and flow.  Wax and wane.  Life and death.

Plus, aside from when they shit themselves, babies just kind of smell good.

Also, everything is new and wonderful in their eyes.  Your hair, your jewelry, you clothes, rocks, sticks, bugs.   They just want to grab hold of life and the world and shove it in their mouths and taste it, too.

There’s no fear in them.  They’re so new, and everything is new to them, and they haven’t the slightest clue how terrifying the world can be.  So they’re just little bundles of light and optimism.

It’s freaking magic and infectious, because when you’re holding them, you realize that they have a chance to not have all the fucked up shit you’ve had in your life in theirs.

Or maybe their drool is just a natural anti-depressant, heartbreak numbing supplement.

Either way, I think I need to do a lot of babysitting.

And please don’t misunderstand me.  I still don’t want my own.  I just want to borrow one that I can give back.

Jack Kerouac

I watch a ton of documentaries, and I just finished watching one about Kerouac.  I’ve watched several about the Beats in general and specifically.   I’ve read On The Road and Dharma Bums, and I’ve enjoyed them.    Watching this film, though, man am I jealous.

He wrote On The Road in twenty-one days.   I can’t even fathom that.  I have a novel or two half-written, laying around.  Every once in awhile I add five or ten pages to them, and then they sit around for another four or five months, forlornly.  There’s so little in this world that I can accomplish in twenty-one days.  It makes me tired just thinking about it.   It also makes me want to push a few buttons on Netflix and start another movie.  That’s so much easier than writing.  Not to mention my least favorite friend, rewriting.   Ugh.  Revision.

Though there have been times when words have flown out of my mind and through my fingers via pen or keyboard, but never have I been able to type out a scroll of a novel in a matter of days.  Forget how good it is.  Forget that he changed and influenced the world.   Just that fete alone.

Of course, the amount that I could get done if I just started using a bunch of speed and drinking 24/7 might impact what I could accomplish, however, I think it would probably be in the opposite direction.  I can only imagine, thankfully, how distractible I could be on speed.

He died at 47, though.  I’m closer every day to 47 than I ever will be to 27 ever again, and I haven’t even had a single story or poem published, yet.  Think of what he left unwritten.

So right now I’m feeling a little bit inspired, but I’m not sure it’s to write.  I may just want to read On The Road again.

Just sayin’.

Bad dreams

One of the things about grieving is that it does tend to bring up some pretty freaky dreams.  I’ve spend the last few nights being lead on some not-so-pleasant choice-less own adventures by my brain.  It sucks when even in my sleep, I can’t get away from all this crap on my mind.

Do you have the same dream over and over again?  I can’t really say that I’ve ever had that happen to me.  Of course, if I dream every night, most nights I have forgotten the dreams by the time I wake up.  For the longest time, I simply thought that I didn’t dream.

So I’ve obviously heard of people having recurring dreams.  My father once told me that he had a recurring dream, years after retiring from the Navy, of being on a ship, and not being able to find one piece of his uniform, and therefore not being able to leave the ship.  He looked everywhere, all over the ship.

But I’m not one to put too much into dreams, and their meanings.   I think it’s probably just the last few synapses firing when you fall into subconsciousness, a random refrigerator casserole of whatever was going on in your mind, what was going on in the back of your mind that you didn’t even realize, and some random memories.

But I think that my dad’s dream is stressed related.   In fact, I think most dreams are stressed related.  Even when you don’t think you are experiencing any stress. It’s your brain’s way of spazzing out and trying to shake it off.

While I’ve never had the same dream over and over again, I have had certain themes that have come up over the years.   I dream about messed up bathrooms.   Once, the toilet is too big for me to actually get on.  Another time, there was a series of stalls that don’t have the in-between walls, so that when I sat down and looked left and right, I could see all the other women on the other toilets.   Feel free to try to analyze that.  I’d love to hear your theories.

There are also, recurring locations.  I used to have dreams that all happened in the same house.  It wasn’t a house that I had ever been in, and there were things about it that didn’t make sense.  There was a secret room that had to be accessed through a serious of tiny spaces, and hidden doorways, and stairways in the front and back of the house, even though it wasn’t really that big.  I found myself in that house over and over again, but the other people with me were always different, as was the circumstance.   Again, I welcome your thoughts as to what that might be about.

And then, there’s the bridge of my nightmares.   I have had so many dreams about having to get across this bridge.   There’s always some weird thing going on that prevents it from being a simple drive across.  Even times when it’s  a straightforward crossing, this bridge is whack.   It’s so steep, that I wonder if my car can climb it; it climbs high up into the air, higher than a high-rise in New York; it’s narrow.

But normally I can’t just cross it.  There’s usually something wrong with it, and I have to go through some trials to get across.  The bridge is out, so I have to get on a barge, but it’s only accessible via a rickety old dock.  Or there’s only one lane open on this already tiny, narrow bridge.

Last night I had to cross it on a zipline strung over the road of the bridge, hand over hand, all the way up and down.   No wonder why I keep waking up totally exhausted.  I keep getting that kind of workout in the middle of the night.

I hate that bridge.  I probably have not seen the last of it.

Rules of Cooking by PeggyLu

  1. Play some music really loudly, preferably something you kind of like to dance to.  Cooking is hella boring, so you’ll want something to take your mind off of how dull you feel.
  2. There’s probably no such thing as too much garlic.
  3. Always use broth or stock.  It makes people think you know what the hell you’re doing.
  4. Using wine when you cook also makes people think you know what you’re doing.  Bonus, you get to drink the wine while you cook.  Julia Child taught me that.
  5. In every bag of potatoes, there’s always that one that is pretty messed up.  Don’t waste your time trying to cut off the bad parts of that one.  Just throw it away.
  6. Use every dish.
  7. Try not to cook meat or dairy.  There’s less chance that you’ll give everyone food poisoning that way.
  8. Things you just have to leave on the stove or oven for an extended period of time are the best dishes.  It gives you time to do something else while you wait, like straighten your hair or remember where you left your keys.
  9. When it comes to vegetables, don’t peel them.  Not only are all the nutrients and vitamins on the skin, but it saves you a lot of time.  Also, potato peelers are pretty much just knuckle skin shavers.
  10. Impersonating the Swedish Chef from The Muppets is required.
  11. Doing the running man in the kitchen is acceptable.
  12. No one is going to know or even care if you mash the potatoes by hand.  Use a mixer.  Trust me.
  13. In the case of potlucks, don’t be afraid to buy something and put it in a dish.  No one has to know that you didn’t cook it.
  14. Cut every corner you can.
  15. Have fun

I hope you found this helpful.  Good luck getting through the holidays.

Just sayin’.

Ferguson, Missouri and Oakland, California

I hate that this was so predictable.   Tonight the grand jury announced that they would not indict the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown.

Meanwhile in Oakland, there’s protesting that seems to have turned into vandalism, broken windows, and bonfires.

As I type this, it seems that there’s a large group that is blocking the freeway.   I don’t really think that’s such a big deal, but it’s gotta be frustrating to anyone who might be stuck in traffic trying to get home.

Of course this is a big deal in Oakland because of the long history of police officer misconduct and brutality in Oakland.

And the precedent in Oakland is that a group gathers to peacefully make their point known, and at some point, it turns into this situation where damage and destruction begin.  It’s actually not this bad this time.   But every time this happens, most of the people who are arrested are not from Oakland.   I wish they would stay home and break their own stuff.

I believe in demonstrating.  I believe that people have a right to be upset, and it makes perfect sense.  This is not an isolated incident.

Breaking windows won’t solve it.  Setting fires won’t solve it.

 

Stay angry, but stay safe, Oakland.

And don’t break my shit.